Another One by Lobke Leirens and Maxim Storms – Summerhall, Edinburgh
On the evidence of their Edinburgh show, Another One, Maxim Storms and Lobke Leirens are geniuses. They spend an hour performing, mostly without words, as an elderly couple in fur hats, who appear to live in a teepee. They may be Russian, but there is no way of knowing as they are entirely focused on one another. They act out sequences of mutual dependence, both affectionate and violent, moving in a style that makes them seem like poorly-wired marionettes. The two nameless characters live through a series of baffling and fascinating ritual. They play a high-speed, aggressive card game. Storms slaps Leirens in the face repeatedly, harder than the audience is comfortable with. Later, she slams him into a plywood wall thirty times in a row. The climactic scene, if such an unconventional production could be said to have one, involves Leirens dressed in shamanic furs, eating a dead something – bird, weasel or both – raw. The action is entirely unpredictable, and formalised to the point of being surreal. It is also funny and upsetting in equal measure.
The two performers inhabit their strange roles with complete physical commitment, and a degree of startling originality that marks them out as theatre makers to follow. Big in Belgium, always responsible for some of the strangest and best Summerhall productions, has brought Storms and Leirens to the Fringe and their show is exactly what Edinburgh needs to unsettle, confuse and provoke. It may be an acquired taste, but Another One is absolutely unlike anything else at the Fringe, or indeed anything else at all, and that is some achievement.